Our Mini Family Vacation

This summer we had no true plans and truthfully I was looking forward to spending it just relaxing and taking it one day at a time. Only one wedding at the end of the summer to worry about so for the most part, doing what we want! Somehow every free second we had was consumed and I felt like we were more busy this summer then we have in the past few years that had involved some pretty extensive travel.

One plan we did make was to travel to our neighboring province for a weekend away with our family (my tripod plus the in-laws+ sister-in-law and beau). Destination? Airshow! My father-in-law is retired military and though my husband has no direct military connections, loves anything that flies. Our daughter is also pretty obsessed with airplanes so it was a great opportunity to get away.

Even though we were only three hours from home it felt like so much more. I personally haven’t been to this city since I was quite young and it was much nicer than I remember. We booked our hotel room on a discount site and shared the room with my sister-in-law saving big bucks. It was a newly renovated room with a view of the river behind out hotel, we chose this particular hotel because it included parking and a hot breakfast. Most other hotels had a $10+ charge per day to park and nothing for breakfast included which meant we would have needed to spend more money on food.

The only plan we had was to attend the actual airshow, everything else was up in the air and we sort of did what we wanted. We explored a bit and on the way home stopped at an old fort from the 1700′s, one of those places I’ve driven past a millions times in my life but never stopped in. I loved everything about our weekend. Kiddo’s schedule was totally off but she was a trooper and we all had an amazing time.

 

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When was the last time you got away??

Why You Should Never Get Too Comfortable in a Job

wpid-img_20130830_100750.jpgFor the most part I really enjoy where I work. It’s a small office with very little room for drama, one person has the potential to throw everything off, thankfully there’s none of that to worry about. We’re a close group of people who all get along despite our varying backgrounds. The patients are great and I have been exposed to some pretty amazing learning opportunities at this office that I really don’t think I would have learned anywhere else.

In my line of work I feel it is important to find roots and build a rapport with both fellow employees and most importantly, the patients. After five years in the same office I think I have accomplished this. I am the only hygienist in this office and other than the random vacation day or my maternity leave, I’m the only face they see. People are comfortable with me and I have formed some pretty amazing relationships in my five years here, but for my professional well-being, I can’t allow myself, nor can you, to ever get too comfortable in a job.

I’m not suggesting you don’t look for a place of employment that you can potentially put some permanent roots down, become one of those employees who retires from the same place after 25+ years, but I am telling you to never stop looking for more, for better.

I started at this job as a maternity leave position where the lady decided not to return to work and instead become a stay at home mom. I was excited to find out I had a permanent position after thinking I would only have the one year maternity leave for job security. I think I was so excited to have a permanent position in a competitive field that I sort of let myself go a bit.

I never stopped being great at what I do. I’d like to think that I’m excellent at my job and that shows in both patient satisfaction and positive praise from my employers. What I did do was stop searching for more. I was so delusional about the fact that I had a job I could essentially keep forever, no more interviews, no more anxious first few days that for a few years I stopped aiming higher.

By getting too comfortable in a job I stopped searching what was out there, and God only knows the opportunities I’ve potentially missed. For the first few years a raise was just given to me, no questions asked (and I never once checked to see if they were even fair) then there were some shifts within the company and I haven’t received one since. I let my comfort in job security prevent me from even figuring out what I should be making as a wage. I’ve spent the last three years of my professional life living in a bubble. Wages have gone up 5% or more and I didn’t even care to notice. I was too busy being comfortable with the fact that I had a job. I’ve also stopped practicing some skills that, though I don’t currently need them would be an advantage at another job.

I remember landing this same job and negotiating my hourly rate. He offered one thing and kindly pointed out many reasons why I deserved more. Yes I was a new grad but had so many other interpersonal skills to offer I thought I deserved more. Right off the bat I got more and I think it’s time he and I have a chat again. I’m done with being comfortable. I’m confident in my skills and have come to realize just what’s out there for me, I need my employer to see the same!

How do you avoid getting too comfortable professionally and potentially missing opportunities?

Beating The Need to Spend: Anniversary Edition

wedding.jpgToday is our fifth wedding anniversary. I have no idea where five years went but it’s gone. It’s been quite a journey from newlyweds to homeowners to now wrangling our toddler to sleep in her own bed and explaining to her why she can’t hold the moon tonight.

We’ve always been very practical people. It was quickly outlined in our first year of dating. For my 18th birthday my (then boyfriend) bought me a gold chain bracelet. Though it was beautiful, I didn’t know if, when, or how to tell him he should have saved his money or if he insisted, bought something a little more practical. I was not then, nor am I now, a jewelry person. It took a little courage but I finally found the courage to tell my sweet and sensitive boyfriend that though I appreciate the thought, he really didn’t need to waste his money on me, especially lavish gold chains. I was nervous he’d be insulted but instead it was sheer relief. For a 17 year old boy I think when we formally announced our relationship he expected money to fly out of his pocket, I assured him it wouldn’t.

As the years and milestones went on so did our against-the-grain, frugal celebrations. Forget five-star Valentine’s day celebrations, I think (the day) is stupid and we go out of our way to be as unromantic as possible (which has since turned into a bit of an unexpected tradition) of getting the grossest cheapest fast food (think McD’s) to eat at home, in PJ’s. Our first Christmas in our home we decided to forgo gifts and buy something for our new home instead. One of my most favorite gifts ever was my dishwasher. You get the point.

Some may call us cheap but we’re not doing these things for extreme financial reasons. We’re just uber practical people who would rather spend money on things other than $6.49 anniversary cards that are pretty but will end up in a drawer or garbage next week. Society can sometimes make us feel bad for the choices we make, like we’re bad people for not dropping a bunch of cash on a lavish night out celebrating but we’ve resisted the urge to spend money to please other (non-important) people’s standards thus far.

We are who we are and that’s why I love him. Not to say he doesn’t surprise me with the occasional special treat like flowers or cookie delivery to work its infrequent and usually accompanies something I really need, like new laundry basket.

The fifth wedding anniversary ”gift” is wood. Though an engraved cutting board, beautiful jewelry box or custom coasters would be great gifts for someone, I think we’ll take the bundle of wood in our back yard and burn it ;)

 

 

 

How To Deal With Rejection

On Monday my husband picked me up from work with surprise ice cream in hand (before we picked the kid up so I could actually eat it, bonus points). It had been a particularly long day where nothing was going right, including getting confirmation that I didn’t get the job I had interviewed for two weeks ago.

I’m not totally surprised though. It was a bit of a long-shot and I was surprised to be in the final two contenders. The office manager explained that everyone loved me, that it had nothing to do with me, my skills or anything else except the girl I was competing with had one skill set I haven’t practiced since it was taught to me, what would have been seven years ago now. A skill I could re-learn very quickly but when it came down to it, we were equals she just had a slight advantage being given the opportunity to work in this particular area before. The office manager also explained that they enjoyed me enough to tell me that as soon as next position becomes available, the job is mine and she won’t even post it publicly if I’m still interested come the time (at this office I’m not holding my breath that it will be any time soon given they just filled their vacancies with what will likely be long-term employees).

When faced with rejection it’s easy to just put your head down and micro-analyze what when wrong without looking for solutions. Instead, we need to accept it wasn’t meant to be and move forward. Every opportunity in life grants you a learning opportunity you just need to find it. Rejection can be prime time to make a learning opportunity. This applies to everything from breakups to job loss. Figure out why it didn’t work out and if it is necessary to improve for next time.

I didn’t get the job but that doesn’t mean I’m just done. I need to learn something from this experience. I’m still in a job I like though isn’t ideal. For me I need to make the most of my current situation, but how?

  • First, applying for this job has re-opened my eyes to the job market a bit. I’m approaching my boss about a raise. I’m overdue and deserve it, I have a plan, one I will likely share come the time.
  • Second, I’m going to look at what I was missing and improve myself to make myself more competitive for the future. They were looking for someone who held a skill I haven’t practiced in seven years. I’m also going to approach my boss about re-teaching me this skill since I work in an office that preforms this skill-set but the dentist does it all where normally, in 2014, it’s something hygienist does at least partially. If he doesn’t want to give up this aspect of his practice, he’s been doing things this way for 28 years so I don’t know he will, I will approach a specialty office about possibly giving me a training day, for free. I’d be looking to tag along for a day, working for free all I want is to learn some stuff.
  • Thirdly, if I’m going to be sticking around this office for a while longer I need to make my situation as good as I can. I’m going to again chat with my boss about changing a few things and ordering me some new items. Though this is normally no big deal I’m looking to spend a few thousand dollars so I’ll need his approval.

The hardest part for me will be nailing down some time to actually talk to him. It’s impossible. I’m going to start with a warning remark about how I need some of his time and try to find a few minutes in the next week to make it happen and hope he works with me to find the time…

Rejection sucks but I’ll be in a better situation next time if I take the time to learn from it, and so will you.

How do you deal with rejection?

Budget Bedroom Update #1: Using Vinyl Wall Art

We’ve officially been living in our house for over four years. I have no idea where the time went but we just got around to painting our master bedroom earlier this year. Part of the reason being I couldn’t make my mind up about the color but we made a decision and haven’t regretted it once. After the paint was up and new duvet cover was on the bed, we sort of stalled…and stalled…and stalled. It took me four years to decide on paint color so figuring out how we were going to finish the room, on budget, was a challenge. One I’m up for I just needed time to figure it all out.

When we were living in our apartment I was excited to make our first place feel like home, which was tough living within the constraints of the apartment. We couldn’t paint and were very limited as to what we could hang on the wall basically anything beyond a thumb tack wasn’t allowed. Using vinyl as a decoration is something I first came across on Pinterest. Living in an apartment, this was a perfect solution, vinyl goes up fast and comes down just as easy. I may have gone a little vinyl wall art crazy.

I decided to try a little wall art fun again in our bedroom with a vinyl wall quote on a small wall near our door.

wpid-20140808_145445.jpgI really like the quote and see it everyday when we wake up. So, very, true. I’d be nothing without my husband and daughter beside me in everything I do!

You can order vinyl wall art from many, many sites (check out thequotesworld.com for examples). I personally am a fan of vinyl wall quotes but you can get basically anything you can dream up. My daughter told me the chrysanthemum flower was bbeeaauuutttiiifffuuullll!

Other quotes I really liked were:

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We still have a few more things to put up on the wall, a-la-DIY no doubt, but it’s slowly coming along!

Have you ever decorated with vinyl? Did you like it?

 

Getting Married? The Past, Present and Future of Your Household Budget

Getting married is one of the biggest milestones we accomplish in life. We take vows with a person whom we intend to stay with for the rest of our lives. Marriage is a pretty big commitment that requires a lot of patience, honesty and respect. The same could be said for how marital finances should be handled.

Past

In terms of marital finances, the past refers to being open and honest about your financial situation with your spouse before you actually get married. This will eliminate any future arguments and allow them to be on the same page about where you stand. If you acquired debts before the relationship started, let them know how and why they were accumulated. Some debts, such as a student loan or mortgage, are pretty self-explanatory, but if you bring unsecured debt such as credit cards, let them know how and why you’re carrying the debt…….

{Continue reading this post over at Mint.com where I’m featured!}

What Motivates You to HOW You Spend Your Money?

The other day my aunt posted a thing on Facebook about why someone who had a perfectly function kitchen would need a kitchen makeover. The lady detailed how, though her kitchen may be outdated, it was in good shape and totally functional. She had storage, a fridge to store her family’s healthy food in and clean running water (in not just the kitchen but multiple rooms in the house for which she is so grateful for). It was a public plea to stop asking if you can help her update her kitchen because quite frankly she doesn’t care for your opinion. It works fine, provides for her family and she would rather not go into debt to restore the kitchen to 2014 standards.

First off, good for you lady, you’re so right. Secondly I want to thank you for making me think not just about my kitchen but for opening my mind to thinking in a much broader sense. The motivation behind why we choose to spend our money the way we do.

If we lived alone and never had anyone over, would we sink a bunch of money into a perfectly clean and functional space just to satisfy ourselves? I wouldn’t.

I don’t care what the TV shows and magazines will try to convince you about how the room is just for you, there is no freaking way I’d be dropping 20k+ into a room that NO ONE but me and my immediate family will see. A beautiful kitchen won’t make me any better of a cook just like owning a treadmill doesn’t mean I’m guaranteed to use it and be in great shape. Gadgets (and that’s what a fancy kitchen is) are just things.

In keeping with the kitchen example, we just re-did the kitchen in my husband’s grandfathers cottage. By re-do I mean replace the handmade 20+ year old cabinets with used cabinets that my husband and I ripped out of our house and gave to him. When the work was done the family sat back and admired how good it looked. We were pleased with ourselves for doing such a good job and the cottage now looks great.

Why was this perfectly functional kitchen ok for the cottage, going as far as looking great, but not ok for my own home?

My guess? Other people’s standards.

We re-did the kitchen in our home because simply put, we thought it was ugly. Truthfully it wasn’t that bad. It was 100% functional, we just didn’t like it. As soon as we could, it was ripped out and replaced and guess what? We couldn’t wait to open the front doors of our house and show every single person who wanted to see. I also admit that I loved having the cabinet installers parked in our driveway, it allowed the neighbors to know that we were having work done to our house (and let them speculate what could be going on). Kinda makes me sick to think I admittedly dropped thousands of dollars to please others more than myself.

I’d like to think I’m a conscious consumer but maybe I’m not as aware as I thought. I’ll certainly question why I’m buying certain products a little more. Do I really want that sweater or do I only want it because so-and-so has it. Makes ya think…

What motivates you in how you spend your money?

Why I Could Never Live Without Multiple Income Streams

wpid-20140713_232643.jpgI’ve always wanted to have a side job. I remember when my best friend got a Saturday job to supplement her career income a few years ago wishing I could figure out a way to do something similar. The dreams I created about making additional money somehow over and above my salary. I knew I wanted it I just didn’t know at the time how I could mesh spending my free time on something I loved while making money, I wasn’t quite desperate enough to waste my precious time doing something I loathed. In the last few years I’ve built multiple income stream opportunities which I hope to never give up!

Blogging

Blogging is something I have done on and off for years. I have always done it as a hobby and never looked for it to satisfy more than pure enjoyment. When I started blogging in what I learned was the infamous personal finance community, suddenly I had opportunities open to me that never existed in other niches. I could make money blogging and writing and I jumped at the opportunity. Advertising started incredible slow and slowly picked up in the last 18 months. It’s far from reliable but always nice when things can work out for the better.

Freelance

I have always loved to write. Never formally (I’ve submitted my fair share of scientific written reports, that much structure isn’t fun) but that’s what drew me to blogging. I like getting my opinions out there and engaging in conversation. Sure I knew people made livings with freelance gigs but I certainly never dreamed I could make money doing it too. On a whim, I applied for my first freelance gig almost two years ago. Not expecting to hear anything, I was actually hired. I love freelance writing and still do it today. I have written for quite a few sites and currently am on the roster with four other sites. Some very casual, others on a more frequent basis. I try and make sure I’m not writing in any one niche too much since I get bored so spread it out as best I can. Depending on how this potential new job pans out I may attempt to seriously rev up my freelance writing since my schedule will be much different but we’ll see how it goes.

Working More

Professionally I’m a dental hygienist. My job has me working four days per week and that is how we budget. If we need extra money for whatever reason, I have the option of working additional hours within my profession. I can either work with my current employer or as a casual fill-in to whatever office may need me (via a provincially issued list to dental offices). I like that I have the extra day per week to play with when it comes down to it.

The security that comes with having multiple income streams is something I never imagined. Though my professional job is far above any of my side jobs, I have peace of mind knowing I could come up with something if it came down to my losing my job and needed cash. For me, multiple income streams is an insurance policy for my family, it acts as a fluid emergency fund. I have more peace of mind knowing I have more than one way to make money, than I do cash sitting in the bank.

Do you have multiple income streams?

You Have to Recognize Your Financial Weakness

Have you ever done a budget up and totally blown it only to recommit yourself the next month and the same thing happens again? I know I have. When I did our first budget I didn’t allocate a single dollar to entertainment or eating out. After all, we were trying to get real about paying debt off so in my mind these were frivolous items to budget for. But guess what? Even while working towards your financial goals, life goes on, and in my life, eating out occasionally and spending a little money on fun will happen. It took me a few months to realize things like eating out once per week was a financial weakness of ours but as soon as I did we started having less and less financial slip-ups.

Recognizing your financial weakness isn’t always easy. Sometimes you may not want to admit it, it certainly took me a few weeks to admit to myself that I would definitely have at least one meal per week from take out but that’s how I roll. I want a break and usually come Friday after a long week, hubby and I want to just go home and not worry about anything, including a meal to prepare so we’ll often grab something to go.

Recognizing your financial weaknesses is imperative to keeping your finances in order. I love buying stuff for the home. I recognize that this is a huge weakness for me, a weakness that, contrary to the eating out item, I refuse to budget for right now. I can justify adding in a line to our budget to eat out once in a while, I however cannot justify satisfying my weakness for a new picture frame or area rug. To combat this weakness I simply avoid the stores I enjoy shopping at. I don’t look through the flyers often and limit my online pursing since it tends to make me want more ”stuff”, stuff I don’t need, not now and likely not ever.

By simply recognizing certain types of stores will cause me to spend unnecessarily I have avoided my financial weakness and kept my budget intact. #winning

Obviously certain financial weaknesses just need to stop too. Some things are just utter wastes of money and if you don’t have the income to support it, give it up. It may sting for a while but you’ll quickly get over it as you watch your other goals be met.

If you don’t spend the time to figure out what it is that pulls at your purse strings and causes you to bleed money, you’ll never better your situation. While some weaknesses need to be cut out (or at the very least temporarily avoided) sometimes it just needs to be recognized and managed better. We’re human and have wants and needs that should be met, just don’t let these things control your entire budget, or life.

 

Why I’m Not Making Any Extra Debt Payments: Debt Repayment Update

Summer vacay on hold for a day. Hopefully for good reason.

Summer vacay on hold for a day. Hopefully for good reason.

For at least this month there won’t be much extra for debt payments.

My life has been kind of up in the air, professionally speaking anyway. Part of the reason I haven’t had as much time to commit to this blog. I still have a job that I love but very long story short I have been looking for a change. There are literally 100 reasons why I can’t imagine leaving my current job but 101 why I need to. It’s been an emotional battle but I really started revving up my job search a few months ago.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was torn about possibly taking a great job that wouldn’t jive with my family life. In the end my husband and I decided we just couldn’t make it work, extra money and all. Months later the same position became available again, at the same office and I decided to contact them about the job and their willingness to change some of the constraints I didn’t like (ie: the hours). To my surprise they were willing to chat.

I’ve already had the formal interview and, as it sometimes goes in my industry I’ve moved onto the ”working interview” stage where I basically go to work for them for half a day and see how it goes on both ends. As you read this post I’m likely spending my vacation day working, likely for free, in hopes of landing this job.

The reason I’m not making any extra debt payments for the next month or two (aside for a few hundred I already made, I usually wait until the end of the month/first of new month to make a lump sum large payment) is because this new job is paid on a commission basis and quite frankly that scares the shit out of me. Basically I get a percentage of every code I bill rather than an hourly rate. In the end I’m confident the commission will work out for the better (likely much, much better) but until I know if I got the job or how my pay will be affected, I’m hoarding cash.

July was a decent month for me, especially freelance work. I would have been able to put a total of about $750 over and above what I normally do (about $1,500 for a total of almost $2,300) towards debt which would have made me SUPER happy but until I know the situation with my job, I’m going to hold onto the extra payment.

If I get the job I still plan on holding onto the money for a few months until I know exactly how my income will vary but if I don’t get the job I’ll make the extra debt payment as per usual. And so, my extra debt payments are temporarily on hold hopefully for good reason and hopefully this new job allows me to make significantly more money. I’ll have updates later for now cross all your finger and toes :)